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Things only adults notice in Animal Crossing

The Animal Crossing franchise has captured the hearts of Nintendo fans since the original GameCube dropped back in 2001. That's 19 years of befriending birds, bears, and pigs while working feverishly for a Japanese raccoon dog — a history the big "N" is awfully proud of.

While many adored Animal Crossing once upon a time (and still very much do), their adult eyes and minds have opened to some of the stranger bits of Nintendo's beloved series. Time in the real world has helped paint the franchise's concepts and characters in a whole new light, and has made everything seem a little less rosy and innocent as a result.

Here are some of the things only adults notice in Animal Crossing. If you're a die-hard fan of the series and can't bear to see it criticized, you've been warned. If you're ultra-curious about what Nintendo's life sim really teaches people, then the truth awaits.

The perspective of Animal Crossing defies science

The art style found in the Animal Crossing series is fairly unique, and does well to make the player feel both comforted and relaxed. The characters are chibi in nature, your animal friends are cute, and the world itself is really pretty to look at.

It's a darn shame, then, that Animal Crossing had to go with that weird scrolling horizon mechanic. Quite honestly, it takes you out of the experience a bit. It also doesn't make any sense from a scientific perspective.

In the image above, for example, you can see trees disappearing over the horizon mere meters from where the characters are standing. That dramatic a curvature would mean the world Animal Crossing takes place in is extremely small. But you know that's not the case! There are other locations. In the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons, your friends live on other islands. Where do they fit?

This technique really falls apart when you realize it's not used when moving left or right. By Animal Crossing's calculation, the world is not a sphere but, instead, some kind of strange cylinder; a giant rolling pin out in space. There are hordes of people who believe the Earth is flat already, Nintendo. Don't make the "Animal Crossing theory" a thing.

You are Tom Nook's indentured servant

Since day one, players have seen through Tom Nook's adorable facade and called him out on what he really is: a greedy capitalist who views you as nothing more than a source of labor. When you first set foot into Animal Crossing's universe, it's Tom Nook who conveniently shows up with a home in exchange for working at his store. If you manage to get out from under your mortgage, Tom Nook ensures you're never really free by expanding said home without your permission.

And think about what you'll be doing in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Tom Nook is offering you a vacation package to a deserted island, where you and your animal friends will camp at first, but eventually build a functioning town with modern amenities. That new town will be built on the backs of those who are supposed to be on vacation. And Tom Nook? Tom Nook will reap most of the benefits. Tom Nook will be making money on his vacation package, and by selling you everything you need to transform your new home into something more habitable.

And you? You'll be working hard to make it all possible, none the wiser that Tom Nook has duped you for probably the sixth or seventh time.

Animal Crossing encourages you to go into debt

In a lot of ways, Animal Crossing is just like real life. Trade your human friends in for some dogs and cows, and you're essentially doing the same things you are in the earth realm. You're buying a home you can't afford immediately. You're spending money on things to put into that home. You're working endlessly to try and pay everything off so you can lessen your anxiety and feel some semblance of financial freedom.

But you never quite get there, do you? Because just like in the real world, you'll want to buy and collect more things. Those things, as it turns out, require more space. And so, as Gamasutra puts it, "the additional space just [fuels] more material acquisitions, continuing the cycle."

For better or worse, Animal Crossing encourages you to take on debt. Not only that, it entices you to remain forever in debt by offering you shiny new items for your home, and expansions that can increase the size of your abode so you have room for those new toys. If you think about it, Animal Crossing could simply end when you pay off your home and decorate it with a few things. What more do you need? Unfortunately, just like real life, the game is designed to keep you running on that hamster wheel for as long as possible.

Tom Nook is basically Jeff Bezos at this point

When you first crossed paths with Tom Nook in Animal Crossing, he was just a tanuki with a dream. He was a small-scale merchant, selling goods to villagers and even dabbling a tiny bit in real estate. Fast forward a few entries in the series, however, and Tom Nook has become something else entirely.

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Tom Nook's venture has evolved into a conglomerate of sorts called Nook, Inc. His business offers vacation packages to remote islands. Nook owns stores, as well. Nook even has his own smartphone called the NookPhone, which keeps vacationers connected and enables them to rack up and spend what are called "Nook Miles." Those Nook Miles, in case you were wondering, can be used to purchase items from Tom Nook's store.

The path Tom Nook has traveled is not unlike that of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Bezos, too, started a small business that eventually became massive to the point of being unavoidable. And just like Nook, Bezos is now slapping the Amazon name on all kinds of different goods and services, including tablets, video streaming services, and more.

You might not be far off from seeing Nook Prime two-day delivery and NookFlix movies, folks. It also wouldn't be a surprise if Nook, Inc. didn't pay any taxes, either.

Isabelle is every overworked woman

Isabelle is one of the more delightful characters in the Animal Crossing universe. She's kind. She's happy-go-lucky. She's always willing to help, and almost always wears a smile whenever you see her. As you, the player, progress toward your goals in Animal Crossing (whatever they may be), Isabelle is there every step of the way to guide you and make sure you have exactly what you need.

It's become clear, however, that Isabelle doesn't get near the credit she deserves. In that regard, she seems representative of just about every overworked woman in the world. She pours her heart and soul endlessly into the task at hand, only to see someone else receive all of the accolades and all the attention.

Think about Animal Crossing: New Leaf for a moment. You got to be the mayor, and had the always-helpful Isabelle at your side to make sure things ran smoothly. But it was Isabelle who really did the work, right? She handled all the big stuff behind the scenes. And when you stopped playing, the town kept running — all thanks to Isabelle. You got the fancy title of mayor, but really, a certain yellow dog was the real woman in charge. She made sure the whole operation didn't fall apart while you decorated your private residence.

It's no wonder Isabelle took a liking to Vacation Juice. She deserves a drink for dealing with all this nonsense.

None of your friendships are real

It's unbelievable just how much Animal Crossing makes you care about anthropomorphic animals. You spend a lot of time in the games working and prettying up your home, sure. But there's also a lot of relationship building involved. You make new acquaintances. You eventually turn those acquaintances into friends. You grow to appreciate their personalities and their quirks, and eventually, you find yourself wondering how Rosie the cat is doing even when you're not playing.

That's not how it works in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. In that particular entry, your so-called pals do not care about you unless you're willing to spend a little money.

The characters in Pocket Camp come and go more quickly than in typical Animal Crossing titles, though they will visit a while longer if you meet their very specific demands. As The Verge states, "Your animal 'friends' will adamantly refuse to come stay with you unless you decorate your camp with furniture they consider stylish." This unfortunately leaves you to tussle with a rather heartbreaking truth: "all of your relationships are conditional and based on status and money, rather than true affection and respect."

If that isn't downright depressing — especially in a series known for its charming escapism — then what is?

There's some weird cannibal stuff going on

A lot of video games feature animals as the stars, and it's clear the concept is a popular one. Players love seeing Donkey Kong leap from platform to platform and adore Sonic's spin dash. Most people have probably never seen a real-life bandicoot before, so Crash is the clear favorite. Animals are a staple of video games. But when you get into the simulation side of things — and animals are the characters — the situation gets weird.

Here's a question for you: what do the animals in Animal Crossing eat? Are they against killing their own kind, either for food or for luxury?

It's strange to think about, but even more strange when you play while keeping this in mind. It's not unusual to see cows chilling out on cowskin rugs, for example. Birds attending a barbecue where other birds are roasted isn't out of the ordinary. Heck, as Reddit user animalcrosser93 found, you can even get a turkey to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. The human character's eyes in the shot above say it all: it's bizarre and slightly uncomfortable.

Given how games are made, you could probably insert whatever kind of character into a situation and get a similar — if not the same — result. But maybe Nintendo should pay more attention to these awkward circumstances. While serving up steaks in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you don't want Patty to get offended.

Dr. Shrunk is in a very unhappy marriage

Dr. Shrunk is the resident psychiatrist/comedian in Animal Crossing, and while he's not all that funny, his wisecracks typically fall on the lighthearted side. He's a walking, talking dad joke if there ever was one, but one of his routines in Animal Crossing: City Folk is actually pretty soul crushing. It will make your heart ache for the doc, and you'll feel bad about not being more supportive of his comedy career.

"Did you know that love makes everything nicer," Dr. Shrunk begins, starting everyone off with warm fuzzy feelings. "So let me tell you about my wife! She used to be the sweetest girl in the whole wide world!"

Aww, that's so ... wait. She used to be? As in she's not now?

"But these days," Dr. Shrunk continues, "the missus says things like ... 'Get a REAL job, Shrunk!' [...] 'Your jokes make people feel QUEASY!'"

Dr. Shrunk then puts on the saddest face as he makes his despair felt.

"Yep, the missus really knows how to make me feel small ..."

The doc goes on to say that's why he loves his wife, but you can see the Stockholm Syndrome in the man's eyes. He's married to a woman who not only doesn't love him anymore, but can't stand him. It's a sour dose of reality that most people probably play video games to get away from, but you probably shouldn't tell Dr. Shrunk that — he sounds like he's miserable enough as it is.

There are plenty of reasons to be afraid of Kapp'n

It's no secret that travel is a big part of Animal Crossing, and, as luck would have it, there exists a character whose main purpose is to shuttle you to and fro. Whether it's by boat or by taxi, you can count on Kapp'n to get you where you need to go. Unfortunately, you can also count on Kapp'n to be extra creepy while he's doing it — especially if your character is a woman.

If you make the mistake of taking a ride with Kapp'n, you can expect inappropriate questions like, "So ... are ye romantically involved with anyone?" and "Yar I'm just curious, could a lass like yerself fall for a turtle like me?" These inquiries come flying your way even though Kapp'n is married and has a kid. Holy smokes.

And it gets worse, because Kapp'n isn't a turtle at all, despite saying he is. As some Reddit users discovered, Kapp'n is actually based on a Japanese monster called the Kappa. That's right, kids — "kappa" isn't just a meme used by people in Twitch chats; it's a creature from Japanese folklore that abducts and eats children. Think about that the next time Kapp'n offers you a ride.

Coco is probably the soul of a dead person

Here's a dirty little secret you'll discover when playing Animal Crossing for the first time: not all the characters are animals. Some look like little robots. Some appear to be toys brought to life. Some take on the shape of a certain animal, but really, they're something far more disturbing.

Like Coco, for example. Coco is a peculiar bunny, if you're expecting her to look like most bunnies. That odd appearance should definitely be a sign something is amiss, though. Bunnies don't have black holes where their eyes and mouth should be. Bunnies aren't named after the Coco of folklore, which "is said to outright kidnap and devour any disobedient child." Yes, another child-eater.

It's almost as though Coco isn't a bunny at all. And, as you've probably guessed, that's likely the case. Coco, according to the Animal Crossing Fandom page, seems to be a haniwa — a ritualistic clay figure — controlled by the spirit of a deceased being.

That's not to say Coco is evil or anything. In fact, she's quite nice once you get to know her. But you'll undoubtedly have the truth about her in the back of your mind each time the two of you meet going forward. Sorry for making things weird, Animal Crossing fans, but it had to be said.

Tom Nook might be a single dad

One of Animal Crossing's great mysteries isn't why animals and humans mingle as though it's not a big deal, or how exactly those animals dress up like people and speak. No one even pays attention to the fact that you somehow have the power to manipulate time. Yes, you can make time pass like it's nothing.

The huge riddle everyone has yet to solve has to do with the two boys, Tommy and Timmy, who support Tom Nook in all his endeavors. Who are they? Why does Animal Crossing go out of its way to conceal their true identities?

Some believe they're related to Tom Nook in some way — a theory backed up by the fact both their last names are also Nook. There's also a story floating around that Tom Nook found them abandoned and raised them as his own. Others still believe they're Tom's nephews, and that he's doing them a solid by offering them work in his various enterprises. But there's one idea that raises more questions still: Tommy and Timmy are Tom Nook's sons.

If the two boys are Tom's, you have to wonder about the fate of their mother. Perhaps she sadly passed on, leaving Tom alone to raise their kids. Perhaps there was a divorce. Either way, if this theory is the correct one, she is missing, and Nintendo isn't telling anyone why.

Vacationers are woefully underprepared

The vacation package in Animal Crossing: New Horizons seems like a dream come true, right? You're transported to a deserted island that you can shape however you see fit. Your days consist of gathering resources, decorating your space, and making friends with those who also made the journey to the island. Your evenings are all about sitting around a campfire, chatting with your neighbors and eventually catching some z's. It sounds perfect.

You quickly learn, however, that you and your fellow island dwellers weren't prepared at all for island life. That's not to say you weren't ready to pull weeds, shake trees, and mine for iron nuggets. Far worse: you all booked a vacation package you didn't have the bells to pay for.

When you start out in New Horizons, you have exactly zero bells to your name, and Tom Nook once again saddles you with a loan you need to pay off. The same happens to your island neighbors, who openly ponder how exactly they'll make bells to get out from under their debt. That is positively crazy. Who books a trip to a deserted island without any kind of job lined up? It's one thing to show up homeless like in past Animal Crossing titles, which forces you to work to keep a roof over your head. New Horizons, however, is a getaway — one you didn't actually have the money for.

New Horizons' priorities are a little out of order

There's something very odd about the way Animal Crossing: New Horizons approaches the growth of your tiny island home. It starts out with just you and a few other island dwellers. You're all in tents, and you're all working diligently to learn new skills and customize your abodes. Things start to escalate pretty quickly, though, once you start catching a few animals. Tom Nook begins to talk more and more about this "Blathers" person, and asks you to catch more specimens he can send to Blathers.

And then Blathers the owl actually shows up on your island. That's when things really get strange.

Despite you and your neighbors still roughing it in a lot of ways, Blathers wants to build a museum. He wants you to go off and catch butterflies and fish. He wants you to dig up fossils. He wants to put everything you find on display in a fancy new exhibit, which a grand total of three or four or five islanders might visit. All this while those who made the trip with you could still be living in tents, trying to figure out how they can secure enough bells to at least build a small house for themselves.

You and your friends should at least be properly sheltered before anyone even thinks about building a museum on the island. The fact this isn't the case really speaks to Tom Nook's messed up priorities.

In New Horizons, you're basically asked to steal resources from other islands

In the present day, most countries aren't all that proud of colonialism. It's rather embarrassing to look back and realize the people of your country sailed around to new lands, took what they wanted, and, in many cases, took ownership of those new places entirely. It's at least somewhat innocent to travel to a deserted island and make a new life, building everything solely off the resources you have available there. But that's not what Animal Crossing: New Horizons asks you to do at all.

Once you reach a point where you can build a shop on your new island, Timmy Nook asks you to gather materials to make the shop a reality. But he doesn't just request that you find everything you need on the island. Instead, he gives you a ticket, implores you to travel to other islands, and instructs you to take what they have, too.

These other islands aren't entirely empty, by the way. They're full of other souls who might also need those resources in order to survive. Still, Timmy Nook seems to think it's okay to steal their wood, mine their ore, and take their animals back home to your museum. You can even woo some of the folks from other islands to join yours, which is a huge slap in the face. You're basically stripping their island bare to make yours better, while offering them a small parcel of land in exchange.